NHL Network Radio’s Rob Simpson on predictability in the playoffs

predictability

Jean-Gabriel Pageau #44 of the Ottawa Senators scores the overtime goal and his fourth goal of the game as Henrik Lundqvist #30 of the New York Rangers watches the puck behind him and Marc Staal #18 and Derek Stepan #21 of the New York Rangers defend against Tommy Wingels #57 of the Ottawa Senators in Game Two of the Eastern Conference Second Round during the 2017 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Canadian Tire Centre on April 29, 2017 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images

Who had the Ottawa Senators winning game one of the Eastern Conference final? That would be no one, because hardly anyone, if anyone at all, had Ottawa making it this far, or even making the postseason in the first place.

How’s that Chicago Black Hawks versus Tampa Bay Lightning Stanley Cup Final shaping up?

For the few faults that may exist with the game at the National Hockey League level, parity and competitive balance are not two of them. The game is indeed as fast, wide open and unpredictable as ever. The Senators trap notwithstanding.

Nashville isn’t a complete shocker. A handful of pundits, based on the depth of the blue line corps saw a glimmer of hope for the Predators this year. With balanced scoring up front and excellent goaltending from Pekka Rinne, the team is obviously taking the next step. For the majority of folks however, the Pred’s ascent through the West to its first Conference Final is somewhat of a surprise. No Hawks or Sharks to get in the way.

As for game-to-game prognosticators, there is also no predictability. Ottawa winning Game-one in Pittsburgh was a complete surprise. For that matter Ottawa beating the New York Rangers in round two is actually still mind-boggling. I must hand it to Guy Boucher and his troops for playing with that “soul”, the term he uses to recognize team identity. No one saw them winning Game-six and wrapping up the series at Madison Square Garden.

Meanwhile, the Ducks coming back from down two goals at home against Nashville in game two was a surprise as well, simply because of the way Smashville has played D this postseason. But, based on statistics in 2017, it shouldn’t have been too startling given the numbers. It is the record nearing 14th time a team has come back from down two goals or more to win a hockey game in these playoffs. The record is 15 in 2014.

One constant we’ve seen in almost all postseasons is a handful of surprise scoring heroes, like a JG Pageau in Ottawa, Leon Draisaitl in Edmonton or Jake Guentzel in Pittsburgh. Last year it was Nick Bonino for the Pen’s, in 2013 it was Bryan Bickel for Chicago, in 2009 Chad Larose for Carolina had a stupendous couple round run, and of course you can go all the way back to John Druce for Washington in 1990.

The fun continues; that would be the games themselves, not the making predictions part. I had Pittsburgh winning the ECF in 5, Nashville winning the WCF in 6. I can tell you, I’m almost positively certain that I am somewhat confident there’s a chance that the results I have predicted might possibly come true in some way, shape, or form, maybe.

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